Album Review: THE BODY No One Deserves Happiness
The Portland-based metal duo of The Body is no longer tied down by the constraints of titles or subgenre classification. The amorphous tandem of Chip King and Lee Buford have become collaborative wizards over the past couple of years and have continued to create their own nightmarish works of horror since 2004. King and Buford have worked recently with the likes of Neil Jameson of black metal force Krieg, as well as bands like the sludgy Thou, Sandworm and an upcoming effort with grindcore's Full of Hell. Their 2014 album, I Shall Die Here, was produced by British electronic musician, The Haxan Cloak. They have tinkered and toyed with the very constructs of metal music and one of their latest endeavors sees The Body creating what is dubbed "the grossest pop album of all time".
No One Deserves Happiness at its sonic roots is still a heavy album, there is no mistaking that. Where this album strays into the realm of pop is the inspiration for many of the sounds in the album and the way in which particular instruments are used. Much of the album, like their discography, is heavily distorted and terrifying as Hell. The difference being that albums like I Shall Die Here and 2013's Christs, Redeemers play as soundtracks to night terrors, while No One Deserves Happiness plays as 80's dance tracks for the possessed and debauched. There is an undeniable groove to the The Body's new solo album. Tracks like "Shelter Is Illusory" incite more of a gritting of teeth and a toe tap than a head bang. "Two Snakes" builds around a Beyoncé-inspired bass line that was put through a wood chipper. The inclusion of an 808 drum machine as well as the cello and trombone open doors to warped and altered sounds that The Body had wanted to explore in the past, and have now done so with immense success.
There is some familiarity on No One Deserves Happiness as well. Joining King and Buford are long time collaborators Chrissy Wolpert and The Assembly of Light Choir. Her voice appears in the opening track, "Wanderings". She repeatedly sings "go it alone" throughout the song, adding an ominous solitude right out of the gate. Wolpert returns towards the end of the album. Contributing the lone vocals to a depressive dirge that takes the form of "The Fall and the Guilt". The album also features the voice and lyrics of Maralie Armstrong of Humanbeast on "Adamah" and "Shelter Is Illusory". These radiant voices create a dichotomy in vocal delivery. As with much of The Body's work, King's vocals lay embedded in between the layers of noise and horror while Wolpert and Armstrong's voices rise out of the mix and reign over tracks with radiant elegance.
The Body's fifth full-length album certainly registers as "the grossest pop album of all time". Musicians who are as fluid and talented as Chip King and Lee Buford are able to avoid stagnation and create new and innovative music year in and year out. No One Deserves Happiness finds the Portland duo moving further and further away from the confines of metal, which is what King and Buford have wanted to do on their solo albums. Casual fans of The Body may not see the greatness in No One Deserves Happiness. However, understanding their current trajectory shows that this dynamic duo has made great advances on their versatility. It is a magnificent and heavy record that feels like a demonic dance album and it exists as a great disconnect from the prototypical metal album.